In them there hills.......
24.04.2007 18 °C
Our intention had been to cross over the Sierra Nevada to Yosemite National Park, but we were told that the Tioga Pass into Yosemite was closed by snow, as were the next three passes along. So, rather than go all the way back south to Bakersfield we re-planned our route to go north to include Reno where there was an Alamo Branch so that we could change the car - the thought more winding mountain roads in the Dodge was just too horrible to contemplate.
So, after a long day of driving and car-swapping, we spent the night in the charming little historic gold mining town of Placerville. From here on our route followed highway 49.
Named after the 49 Gold Rush, this road follows the miner's wagon trail south along the western side of the mountains - and is thus very winding indeed. The countryside is beautiful; hills, valleys, small farms, lots of trees.
We headed for the classic old mining town of Murphys and booked into the oldest continuously occupied hotel in California (called Murphys). The register boasted such notaries as Thomas Lipton and General Grant, but the most famous of all was Mark Twain. And we stayed in his room:
Murphys is a truly delightful little town - highly recommended. Since there were so many things to do nearby, we stayed for two nights.
On the second day we went on an escorted tour through Mercer Limestone caverns. We had hoped to do a 3 hour pot-holing trip but the girls were too young. Three of us were very disappointed!
We spent the afternoon walking in Big Trees State Park. As the name implies, these Redwood trees are huge! The largest can be 3500 years old and weigh 2600 tons - that's more than 18 blue whales - they are the largest (and tallest) things that have ever lived.
On the way back to Murphys we visited Ironstone Winery and viewed the largest crystal gold nugget in the World. At 41lbs it is worth over 3.5 million dollars.